Tim Winton has a tan, but not in the same way Wayne Newton has a tan. He looks beachy, and youngish. His nose is beakier than it appears in flattering photos. He’s kind of like a self-deprecating potoroo. And I mean that in a nice way.
He made jokes about the audience being all tree-changers. I reckon it was probably a half-half mix of genuine locals ( I’m not talking bogans, despite Winton’s cross-over ability) and latte-swilling blow-ins, but Castlemaine seems to be able to cope with this on a day to day basis, so a night with a writer isn’t any different.
He read from Breath, which I read earlier this year and liked, but in the same way I liked Murakami’s After Dark. It was a little story, spun-out too far. I have to admit, I blaaahed over the surfing descriptions, but this may have been because I was reading on a bookclub deadline and being ungenerous. It was certainly beautifully written, and he reads slowly, which really allowed the style to shine. Rhythmically very natural and accomplished.
Winton seemed to dislike being displayed as the “MILES FRANKLIN WINNER” in a touring case, like Phar Lap, but he was fairly good humored. He was gracious in the face of the “Do you write every day?” and “You use a pencil?” type questions. Purlease.
I really wanted to ask “Does it irritate you being fashionable?” But the crowd was so middle-middle and comfy I chickened out, and sat being middle-middle like everyone else.
Too short, needed to be MC’d – someone asking questions to get the ball rolling would have been good. Best bit was him talking about Robert Louis Stevenson and Twain as childhood influences, because they were immersive and transporting reads, and on their own terms, – vernacular, and you hitch a ride as the reader, ready or not.
He still has a ponytail. Bless.